Entries in Kentucky (14)


Ashley Judd Won’t Run for Senate in Kentucky

Mike Coppola/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After months of flirtation, actress Ashley Judd announced on Wednesday that she will not pursue a Senate bid against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

She made the announcement in a series of tweets late Wednesday afternoon:

    “After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family. Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate. I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader. While that won’t be me at this time, I will continue to work as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people & their needs, dreams, and great potential. Thanks for even considering me as that person & know how much I love our Commonwealth. Thank you!”

An ABC News source familiar with Judd’s decision-making process said the news that Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes has also been considering a Senate run “gave her the space to really make a decision and decide what was best for her.”

The source said Judd has known she was not running for “the past few days” but only decided to make her decision public on Wednesday.

As late as last Friday, Judd was still hinting at a run, referring to her potential run against McConnell and foreshadowing what she presumed would be a barrage of attack ads from his campaign. She told a conference audience in Cincinnati that she used to be averse to hearing criticism, which she said was ironic because she was “about to get $40 million worth of it.”

In the same speech, she also joked that her mother, country star Naomi Judd, couldn’t wait to turn her garage into campaign headquarters.

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who was one of Judd’s most vocal boosters, issued a statement on Wednesday through his spokesman.

“Congressman Yarmuth has said all along he would be surprised if Ashley Judd did not make this race and he’s certainly surprised and while he’s disappointed because he believed Ashley Judd would be a strong candidate against Sen. McConnell, he’s confident that a strong candidate will emerge to take on Sen. McConnell who is the least popular senator in the country,” Yarmuth spokesman Stephen George said in a statement to ABC News.

George added that Judd and Yarmuth spoke earlier this week during which she did “express some reservations about the race,” but he added they had been speaking throughout the process and that was not unusual.”

Judd’s interest in the race spurred widespread national attention, including from former President Bill Clinton, who spoke to both Judd and Grimes about the seat, encouraging them both to take a hard look at the race.

ABC News reported last week that Clinton encouraged Judd to enter the race and promised he would help her, according to several Kentucky political sources. That conversation happened sometime between the November election and President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.

Earlier this month Clinton also met with Grimes after he spoke at an event for former Kentucky Sen. Wendell Ford in Owensboro, Ky., according to multiple political sources in the state. Clinton encouraged Grimes to consider taking on McConnell, adding as he did with Judd that he would support her.

Even with the Hollywood actress’s star power, a campaign against McConnell, a political institution in Kentucky, would have been an uphill battle. Shortly after Judd’s announcement, the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington circulated a list of ten Kentucky Democrats who have all passed on a chance to take on McConnell, including the state’s Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

“The hollow DSCC spin that Kentucky will be competitive still hasn’t made its way to the Bluegrass State,” NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring said in a statement. Citing the list of ten Democratic names, Dayspring added, “Perhaps number eleven might be a lucky charm?”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Ashley Judd Considering Senate Run in Kentucky

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) -- Ashley Judd made a rare reference to her possible political aspirations on Friday.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Judd spoke about her future while giving the keynote address at the American Counseling Association’s 2013 conference at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, which borders Kentucky.

Judd also tweeted about her speech, saying, “Heartfelt thanks to American Counseling Assoc for having me as your Keynote Speaker today. Thank you for your dedication to hope & healing.”

Judd has only rarely spoken publicly of her political aspirations, but is reportedly considering entering the Democratic primary to take on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY-R), according to Kentucky political sources.

The ACA posted photos of Judd addressing the crowd, wearing a patterned dress and posing with a T-shirt that read, “Keep Calm and Call a Counselor,” a take-off on the famous British phrase from World War II, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

The group also posted a Facebook message calling Judd’s speech “truly inspirational,” adding that she expressed “gratitude for the unique role that counselors play in shaping important life decisions for recovery.”

ABC News learned on Friday that former President Bill Clinton has reached out to Judd, encouraging her to enter the race and promising support.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Ashley Judd to Announce Senate Run this Spring?

Mike Coppola/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Actress and activist Ashley Judd is reportedly going to announce her much-rumored candidacy for the U.S. Senate this spring.

The Huffington Post reports the 44-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native told a friend that she intends to announce her run for the Democratic nomination for the 2014 race "around Derby," which would be in early May when the Kentucky Derby brings the spotlight to Louisville and her native Bluegrass State.

However, Judd didn't sound like she was in campaign mode when she told The Huffington Post on Saturday, "I am not sure who is saying this stuff, but it is not I!  I'd prefer as a fan of your journalism that you stay accurate and credible.  We told everyone who called us yesterday these stories are fabrications."

The seat Judd may or may not seek is currently held by Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  ABC News Political Director Rick Klein comments that Judd would have to be considered "an underdog as any Democrat would be against Mitch McConnell, particularly someone with a record that she has of public statements.  It's gonna be hard to overcome."

If Judd does decide to run, she must establish a new residence in Kentucky by November 2013, because Kentucky law mandates that candidates be residents of the state for a year before Election Day.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Ashley Judd ‘Seriously Considering’ Senate Bid

Mike Coppola/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Actress Ashley Judd is “seriously considering” running for Senate, according to Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.

Beshear, a Democrat, spoke with Judd on the phone last week about her potential Senate bid which would pit her against Republican rival and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“I talked to her again the other day, she called me and we had a good conversation,” Beshear said at a press conference with local reporters on Tuesday.

Though the governor did not go into specifics about their chat, he did say that Judd is “seriously considering a race for the United States Senate and the Democratic primary.”  Beshear told local reporters that the actress would be an “effective and formidable opponent” against McConnell in a general election.

Beshear is not the only Kentuckian convinced that Judd might take a stab at politics.  Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, a big supporter of Judd, told ABC News, “I would be surprised if she doesn’t run at this point.”

“My impression is this is something she wants to do, and she is now taking the time to make the contacts she needs to make throughout the state to try and generate commitments of support and in some cases fundraising,” Yarmuth said.  “She is certainly acting like a candidate, a potential candidate."

Though Judd has neither confirmed nor denied a run in the 2014 Senate cycle, the actress has already received criticism from Republican opponents.  Just last month, she was the subject of an attack video posted online by a conservative super PAC, American Crossroads, who called her an “Obama-following, radical Hollywood liberal.”

The Hollywood starlet has captured the attention of young Kentuckians but it seems as if now McConnell is trying to do the same. On Wednesday, his campaign team released a “Harlem Shake” video on YouTube. Though McConnell does not appear in the video himself, a giant McConnell head is dancing aside a slew of patriotically dressed Harlem Shakers at Churchill Downs, the thoroughbred racetrack known as the Home of the Kentucky Derby.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan’s House Opponent Will Be in Kentucky Outside Debate

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Paul Ryan’s House challenger will be in Danville, Ky., the site of the vice presidential debate on Thursday, asking for a debate of his own.

Rob Zerban, the Democrat challenging Rep. Ryan, R-Wis., will be doing national interviews in Kentucky, telling reporters that Ryan has neglected his home-district House campaign.  Ryan, who presumably has his hands full running for vice president and debating Joe Biden, has refused to debate Zerban, so far.

Zerban has circulated a petition among his supporters demanding a debate.

“The reason that Rob is going down [to Kentucky] is that Ryan basically has refused to campaign in the district or debate him or anything like that, despite spending money on TV in the district, so we’re trying to call attention to that,” Zerban spokesman TJ Helmstetter told ABC News.

Zerban has not yet secured a spot inside the building where the debate will be held, but he’ll be available outside.  He’ll appear Thursday morning on MSNBC’s The Rundown and later on Hardball, his spokesman said.

Zerban’s campaign outraised Ryan’s House campaign by more than $200,000 in the third quarter of 2012.

Ryan won reelection with 64 percent of the vote in 2008.  His race against Zerban is not thought to be competitive.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Wins Arkansas, Kentucky Primaries, Outperforms Obama in Both States

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney’s victories Tuesday night in Arkansas and Kentucky may have been foregone conclusions, but besides two more batches of delegates on his way to the 1,144 he needs to clinch the Republican presidential nomination, they also gave him something else -- bragging rights over President Obama.

In Kentucky, Romney, who is expected to clinch the nomination after the Texas primary on May 29, received a higher percentage of the vote in the Republican presidential primary than Obama received in the Democratic presidential primary. With 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had 67 percent of the vote, while Obama had 58 percent.  

Obama did receive more votes than Romney in Kentucky -- 119,284 to 117,599.

In Arkansas, results are still in the early stages of being counted, but with 33 percent of precincts reporting, Obama has 61.5 percent of the vote, and his Democratic challenger, John Wolfe, a lawyer from Tennessee, has 38.5 percent. Romney, comparatively, has received 69.5 percent of the vote.

Arkansas and Kentucky are not considered competitive states in the general election; ABC News rates both states as solid Republican. Nevertheless, the strong showing by “uncommitted” and a relatively unknown candidate in his own party’s primary could be viewed as an embarrassment for Obama, particularly coming on the heels of the strong performance of federal inmate Keith Judd in West Virginia’s primary earlier this month.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arkansas, Kentucky Primaries: What to Watch For

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Arkansas and Kentucky hold their state and presidential primaries on Tuesday.

A total of 81 delegates are at stake in the GOP presidential primaries, which will undoubtedly bring Mitt Romney much closer to, although still slightly short of, the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination.  Romney currently has 992 delegates, ABC News projects.

Mathematically speaking, Romney will not be able to hit the 1,144 mark on Tuesday.  That is expected to happen next week, when Texas holds its primary on May 29. 

The races to watch on Tuesday will be the Democratic presidential primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky.

In Arkansas, John Wolfe, an attorney from Tennessee, is on the ballot against President Obama.  Obama’s approval ratings are low in Arkansas, and Wolfe could easily get a sizable percentage of the vote, potentially even pulling off a victory.  Recent polling showed Wolfe close to Obama in the state.

Arkansas is not a state that anyone expects Obama to carry in November.  ABC News rates the state as solidly Republican.  Nevertheless, losing to or just narrowly defeating a largely unknown candidate in his party’s primary would be embarrassing for the Obama campaign, particularly after federal inmate Keith Judd received 40 percent of the vote in West Virginia’s primary earlier this month.

There is no named opponent on the Democratic primary ballot in Kentucky other than Obama, but voters will have the option of checking off “uncommitted.” 

Kentucky is another state in which Obama has low approval ratings, and where no one expects him to win in the general election.  Still, a poor showing to an “uncommitted” box in an intra-party contest will hardly be uplifting for Obama.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Election Day 2011 Recap: Democrats Score Big Wins

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats scored major victories in Tuesday’s election as two controversial GOP-backed measures -- the “personhood” initiative in Mississippi and changes to collective bargaining rights by unions in Ohio -- were defeated by voters.

“Voters don’t seem particularly interested in ideological battles that have little impact on their core concerns about fixing the economy and creating jobs,” said ABC News’ political director Amy Walter.  “Democrats will also argue that talk of anemic support from their base, especially in the key battleground state of Ohio, has been overstated.”

The “personhood” measure in Mississippi was an ambiguously worded citizen-led initiative that defined human life as starting at “the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”  The measure would’ve restricted certain birth control methods and in-vitro fertilization treatment, and would’ve banned all abortion.  

Meanwhile in Ohio, labor groups won a surprising victory and defeated a ballot measure that attempted to cut back collective bargaining rights for union workers.

Issue 2 would’ve eliminated public employees’ rights to collectively bargain for health insurance and pensions, barred them from striking -- workers would’ve paid a price from their paycheck if they did so -- and curbed promotions based on seniority.  It would’ve also increased health care costs for workers.  Employees would have had to pay at least 15 percent of their health care premiums and allocate 10 percent of their salary for pensions.

Here are other results from Tuesday's elections:

Voting Rights:

-- As Mississippi passed a new law that would require voters to submit a government-sponsored photo ID before being allowed to vote, voters in Maine overwhelmingly voted against a ballot initiative -- Question 1 -- that would’ve required new voters to register to vote at least two business days prior to an election.  Under current law, voters can register on voting day.  Liberals had blasted the measure as an infringement on voters’ rights.

Gubernatorial Races:

-- In Mississippi, Republicans kept the gubernatorial seat.  Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant defeated Johnny DuPree, mayor of Hattiesburg.  Haley Barbour, Mississippi’s current governor, was barred from running again under the state’s term limit laws.

-- Democrats kept the governor’s seat in Kentucky, where incumbent Steve Beshear was vying for a second term.  In a state where President Obama’s popularity has plunged, Beshear’s win over rival David Williams is a boon to Democrats, who lost multiple states to Republicans last year and, in Kentucky, lost to unconventional candidates such as Rand Paul, who won a Senate seat in 2010.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


McConnell Criticizes Obama, Wants to Work With Dems On Spending

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke Saturday night vowing that Republicans would lead a charge within the federal government to cut back on massive spending projects. McConnell, of Kentucky, said President Obama's legislative agenda "is over" and that Obama is doing "Clintonian back flips" trying to be seen as a moderate.

McConnell was speaking to a crowd in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., when he made the remarks. In late 2010, McConnell told the National Journal that his goal was to make President Obama a "one-term president."

However on Saturday night, he said that it would be important for both Democrats and Republicans to be able to work together to cut back on spending.

“To the extent that the president wants to do what is right for the country, we won't say ‘no' just because there's another election coming along,” McConnell told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Signs remain positive for bipartisan progress after Vice President Biden addressed a crowd in Louisville just one night prior, offering praise of Kentucky's senior senator. Biden also implied that work would get done between the Republican-led House and the Democratically-controlled Senate.

"Everybody is going to have to do with less if we're going to get this job done," McConnell said to the Courier-Journal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Prince of Pork' Hal Rogers Will Chair House Appropriations Committee

Photo Courtesy - HalRogers[dot]house[dot]gov(WASHINGTON) -- In a year when spending is scrutinized and the budget is used as a political football, House Republicans have raised eyebrows by appointing Rep. Hal Rogers to chair the House Appropriations Committee.

Rogers, of Kentucky, has been the frontrunner for the spot, despite a reputation for funneling taxpayer money into his own district that has earned him the nickname "Prince of Pork."

In two years, Rogers pushed through 135 earmarks worth $246 million. He's brought tens of millions of dollars into his hometown of Somerset, Ky., so much so that the town has been dubbed "Mr. Rogers' neighborhood."

There's the $52 million National Center for Hometown Security and the tiny airport that received $17 million in federal dollars but has so little traffic that the last commercial airline pulled out in February.

There's also the Hal Rogers Parkway, which was formerly known as the Daniel Boone Parkway before being renamed for the 16-term congressman.

More recently, Rogers was able to secure $5 million for conservation groups that work with wild cats. Among the organizations that could benefit from the money is the Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund, which employs Rogers' daughter.

But despite Rogers' penchant for pet projects, the GOP has vowed that the new House Appropriations Committee will take a hard line on spending.

House Republicans have already voted to cut out earmarks -- a ban Rogers supports.

Rogers will also be charged with cutting non-defense discretionary spending by $100 billion -- a promise Republicans made in their Pledge to America.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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